If youve heard of USB storage, you'll know what these little babies are all about. But in case you don't, in short, these are highly portable disk drives that can hold quantities of information from as little as 64mb to as much as 2gb. These simply plug into your USB drive on your computer, and you can copy and paste (or drag and drop) files from your computer directly onto this unit. The one I'm reviewing today is the Lexar JumpDrive 2.0 Pro, high-speed portable storage. Just to be precise, the Lexar JumpDrive comes in storage sizes of 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB.
You should know that if you're running your computer on Windows98, you'll need to download a driver from the Lexar website (http://www.lexarmedia.com/drivers/index.html) for your system to recognize the USB port as a "drive" on your computer. They also state that if you're using a Mac, you will need the latest software update from Apple (at http://www.apple.com/support). So, as far as software requirements go, with a touch of effort on the customer's part, this will be compatible with all the different operating systems for both PCs and Macs.
Again, your only hardware limitation with this disk is that you need a free USB port to plug this in. Of course, the best USB port to have is supposed to be the 2.0 type (vs. the older 1.1 type) so that you can transfer data at its top speed (12mb per second). However, that doesn't mean you can't use this on the older USB port as I do it just means that it will take you longer to transfer the data from the computer to the disk. I personally haven't found this to be a problem, and haven't noticed it taking all that long even when I was copying a very large PowerPoint file which was so large it refused to be e-mailed.
So what are the main differences between this and other USB storage? For instance, let me compare it to my SanDisk USBs. First of all, when you transfer data from your computer to this unit, there is a little flashing mechanism that will light up while you are transferring information. The problem here is that the light is truly tiny and if you have this placed the wrong side down you can hardly see the light at all. The SanDisks light is on the end and you can easily see the light flashing.
Next, for some reason when I plug in the SanDisk it just sets up and then settles down, staying idle for days, nay weeks without a peep. With the Lexar we've had some problems with its seeming to disconnect itself every few minutes and then re-connect itself, making the directory window pop up or the icon in the task bar flash. This was very annoying when the Lexar was attached to my boss' computer and he got annoyed when things started beeping at him! At first we thought it might be a problem with his USB port or the extension cable, but when I plugged my SanDisk into his computer, this didn't happen.
As for looks, you can see from the picture that this looks like a very small, blue, flattened out bottle of cola. Its pretty, but its not terribly convenient if you want to put two of them next to each other (like on a USB hub) since the width makes them too wide to put side by side. However, I now see that they have other models that avoid this problem, but theyre still selling this one despite the drawbacks.
Then there's the price comparison, for which I found that on the whole this particular model of Lexar seems to generally be more expensive in a shop-by-shop comparison, than the SanDisk (from $38 up to $89, where the SanDisk same size USB range mostly in the $20 to $40 category). However, Ive seen them selling this on E-Bay for as little as £1 so perhaps you can find a good deal on one of these.
Finally, as for the transfer of data, both units seem to be equally as fast which is, one of the most important things about these items. However, over the two years Ive been using this, there have been many times when Ive had problems with reading from it and writing to it directly, and while it sometimes works okay if you move from one computer to another, if youre only using it on one computer then this could be a very big problem indeed!
So, would I have my boss buy another one of these? All in all, aside from the pretty blue colour, I'm not as impressed with this Lexar as I am with the SanDisk. The price isn't as good (except via E-Bay), the data-transfer flashing is weak, and its connection isn't steady. While there's nothing wrong with the speed of transfer of data, its reliability is far from perfect. So, I'm only giving it 2 stars and I'd say that if you're looking for USB storage, go for the SanDisk, unless someone gives you the Lexar as a gift or you find it really, really cheap. Sorry, but Im going for not recommended with this one.
Thanks for reading!
Davida Chazan © December 2004, updated August 2006
Lexar makes a large range of USB drives and you can find out more about them at http://www.lexar.com/jumpdrive/index.html